« PreviousContinue »
rity the Apostle had given them) for Want of this Popular Election in them. But that neither their Commissions or Instructions for ordaining Bishops and Deacons in the Church, do either require, or imply any such Elections in them, will appear evident (I think) from a very few Texts, which immediately relate to them.
The Commission to Timothy is direaly referr'd to in 2 Tim. ii. 2. The things that thou hast heard of me among many Witnesses, (says the great Apostle) the same commit thou to faithful Men, who shall be able to teach others also.
The Substance of Titus's Commillion is, at Titus i. 5. For this Cause left I thee in Crete, (says the same Apostle) that thou shouldt set in Order the things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every City, as I had appointed thee.
Nothing can be plainer (I think) than these three Things are here: First, That there was a full Right and Power of ordaining Elders in the Church unquestionably invested in these Primitive Pastors of the Apostolical Churches. Secondly, That each of them in their single Perfons are exprelly specify'd, address’d, and pointed to, for the Discharge and Execution of it, [Commit thou to faithful Men, &c. and that thou shouldst ordain Elders, &c. as I had appointed thee.] And, Thirdly, That there is not the least Dia rection, or so much as Hint, or Intimation, given to either of them to call in the Asistance, or wait the Approbation of the People in the Case ; neither Texts, por Contexts, if we please to look into them, will suggest the least Imagination of any such Thing : And therefore, with. out farther Remark upon them,
I proceed, in the next place, to consider the larger Instructions given to them by the great A postle, for the due Execution of their important Charge. These lie dispersed in the several Epistles directed to them: And here, if any where, we might hope to find the Secret of a Popular Ele&tion enjoin'd in all their Ordinations : But, on the contrary, instead of clear Instructions for it, we find they had the strongest Cautions given them against it, that a holy Prophet and Apostle together (whose Commission alone they acted by) could well have left with them. For S. Paul, instructing Timothy in the Genius of the People of the Province he had placed him in, in plain Terms foretells him what they would one Day do, if they were left to their own Elections, and might choose Pastors for themselves. The Time will come (says he) when they will not endure found Doctrine, but after their own Lufts shall they heap to themselves Teachers, having itching Ears, [2 Tim. iv. 3.] This was a pretty fair Warning, one would think, both to Timothy himself, and to his Successors too, (for it was an indefinite Prophecy, in Point of Time, to them all) that they should beware of trusting too much to the Votes and Suffrages of the People, in that particular Affair especially of providing Pastors for themselves : And that Titus had a Caution to this Purpose much of the fame Kind with this, is visible enough in S. Paul's confirming the Cretian Poet's hard Testimony of his own Countrymen, that they were always Lyars, evil Beasts, and powo Bellies. [Tit. i. 12.] For that the Apostle meant it not of such as were unconverted only, but chiefly of such as
were then become Members of the Church, and indeed of them alone, in respect of the Use he made of it) is manifest from the Words immediately following, wherein he enjoins Titus to rebuke them sharply, that they might be found in the Faith; which, surely, was to judge and censure them for it, and that had been contrary to his own Do&trine in another Place, if they were not Members of the Church : For (1 Cor. V. 12.) he disowns his Right of judging them that are without; What have 1 to do (says he) to judge them that are without? If the Lay-Members of the Cretian Church therefore had such a Character as this fasten'd upon them by the very Apostle himself, (which, at least, must affect a considerable Part of them) let any Man judge what Probability there is, that Titus should have it given him in his Instructions to let the People choose their Pastors for themselves, or that he should take up that Method himself in conferring Holy Orders on any in that Illand.
'Tis true, indeed, they have this excellent Instruction amongst the rest, that Bishops and Deacons must be proved first, and found to be blameLess; [Tim. iji. 2, io. and Tit. i. 6.] which does undoubtedly suppose a careful Inquisition and wife Trial to be made of the personal Qualifications of every Candidate for holy Orders : And upon this indefinite Advice, and single Intimation, (which, when we have said the most of it that we can, leaves the whole Matter to the Discretional Judgment of the Ordainers themselves) do many Advocates for Popular Election ground their Plea, for a necessary Ap
peal to the Votes and Suffrages of the People in all Ordinations : Nay, our learned Enquirer himself, tho' he offer'd no Scripture Authority for it, when he was dire&tly treating of the Point; yet when he comes to the Method of his Consistory, in examining into the Life and Conversation of such Candidates for Holy Orders, he first tells us, they were proposed to the People for their Testimony, and then immediately subjoins the former of these Texts as an Apostolical Canon, to countenance, at least, if not to enjoin the Practice of it.
In answer to which, I offer these few Considerations :
First, That the holy Apostle's Meaning in it appears not to be so, by the Cautions given to Timothy and Titus, which I mention'd but now.
Secondly, That the Nature of the Thing itself, namely, the Qualifications requir'd in this Case, seem very unsuitable to such a Popular or Congregational Inquest as this. And,
Lastly, That our judicious Enquirer himself, where he most explains his Sense upon this Subject, does not a little countenance the contrary Opinion of it.
The first of these Particulars (of the Apostle's Sense of it) is clear'd already, and needs no Repetition.
The second, which is the Nature of the thing itself, or the Qualifications requir'd in the Perfons to be ordain'd, (and note, Episcopal Orders in the Sense of the Enquiry are included
+ See Enq. p. 88.
here) I shall take from the Enquirer's own Pen. of The Gifts, or Qualifications, (says he) touching which, a Candidate
for the Ministry was examin'd, may be reduc'd to these four Heads.
First, His Age, to prevent admitting a Novice or a Stripling, as he explains the thing.
Secondly, His Condition in the World, in respect of being free from all secular Employments, or mundane Affairs.
Thirdly, His Conversation, that he might be known to be meek and humble, and of an unspotted and exemplary Life.
Fourthly, His Understanding, that he might be of a good Capacity, and fit to teach others; ynder which Head, he falls in clearly with Origen and Clemens Alexandrinus, that all sorts of Humane Learning, and Logick, and Philosophy in particular, were not or.ly useful, but neceffary for a Presbyter ; they were amiable, and profitable for him, as his own Words are, at Pag. 94.
The ingenious Author, who drew up these Particulars, was very sensible (I doubt not) that three in four of them needed no appealing to any Congregation of Men to be satisfy'd in them. Little need of bringing whole Multitudes to a Poll, to know what, or where-abouts, the Age of any Candidate should be; or whether involv'd in secular or worldly Affairs, or no; and more absurd still, to enquire there of his Skill or Abilities in those Depths of humane Learning, which are thought proper for him.
The only Qualification, then, which could fall under the Cognizance of such Judges as thofe, K.
+ See Enquiry, p. 84, Sc.